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Domino's Pizza is introducing an artisan pizza line in its nearly 5,000 outlets across the country. It’s joining the trend other major companies have started in describing their products as artisan.
Wendy's has its Artisan Egg Sandwich, Ralphs offers Private Selection Artisan Breads and Starbucks sells Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches.
But the term artisan, based on the Italian word artigiano, originally referred to a skilled craftsman who carved or otherwise hand-tooled an item. More recently, foodies have used it to describe bread, cheese, chocolate or other cozy items made in an old-fashioned, hands-on manner.
Russell Weiner, chief marketing officer for Domino’s, says the new pizzas don’t use specialty flours or wood-fired ovens associated with artisan baking. But the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza giant defends the use of the word, in large part because of the ingredients used. For example, there is feta cheese on one of the offerings instead of the usual mozzarella or Parmesan and Tuscan salami tops another in place of pepperoni.
Josh Viertel, president of advocacy group Slow Food USA, Brooklyn, N.Y., a grassroots organization that promotes healthful eating, says he doesn't automatically object to large-scale production being termed artisan. But it's almost impossible, he adds, for a national company to use another hallmark of artisan-locally sourced ingredients.
“I have no problems with the scale, but it's really hard to fake authenticity,” Viertel says. “Domino's is diluting the meaning of the word.”